Cackling Goose

Branta hutchinsii
Range Map

Cackling Geese were once considered a small-bodied subspecies of Canada Goose, but in 2004, the American Ornithologists’ Union recognised them as a distinct species. 

Taxonomists call out four subspecies of Cackling Goose, mostly differentiated by plumage color and pattern:

  • B. h. leucopareia or Aleutian Cackling Goose breeds on Islands in the western and central Aleutians, and in the Semidi Islands and formerly in Siberia’s Commander and Kuril Islands. The Aleutian Island population winters mostly in California’s Central Valley, and on the northern California coast, while the smaller Semidi Island population winters mostly on the southwestern Oregon Coast.
  • B. h. hutchinsii or Richardson’s Cackling Goose breeds on the Canadian Arctic slope and on islands from southern Baffin Island and northwestern Quebec, west through the northern and western shores of Hudson Bay, to southern Banks Island and the Mackenzie River Delta, and occasionally in western Greenland. Studies show their wintering range extends from eastern Colorado and western Nebraska south and east to New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. A few birds spend winters east to Massachusetts, North Carolina, the upper coast of the Gulf of Mexico, central Arizona, and northwest to eastern Montana.
  • B. h. minima breeds only in western Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Most spend winters in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and along the Lower Columbia River Valley, with the rest wintering largely in central California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys and in northwestern Washington.
  • B. h. leucopareia or Taverner’s Cackling Goose breeds in Alaska on the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta (south of Nome), the Seward Peninsula, and along northeastern Kotzebue Sound (north of Nome). They winter in the Willamette and Lower Columbia River Valleys (western Oregon and Washington) and in central California.

So far, the only member of this species I’ve met was an out of normal range bird wintering only three miles from my southern California home.

1 Photos

Click map markers to reveal further information